I am starting to learn about Needs…my Needs. I’m learning that I must be totally honest with myself and then, honest with my children (and everyone).
This evening I was exhausted to the point I wanted to cry. Our six year old son is quite capable of getting himself ready for bed but he likes to have his dad or me help him. Of course, this is fine but not when he refuses to get ready for bed until ten o clock at night when my husband and I wish to spend some precious time connecting with each other or wish to go to early to catch up on sleep. By the way, there is no point suggesting my husband and I connect in the mornings as our son is a very early riser. As our son kept me hanging around waiting until he was ready, I felt a panic raise in my body. My body ached and I NEEDED to go to bed to sleep desperately, I tried to explain this to our son but, he pretty much ignored me and carried on. I became angry, I started to throw a “Tantrum” because my Need was not being heard.
Later, when all was calm and our son was in his Pyjamas, he came to sit with me in bed for a while. I spoke gently…
“You know what, I have realised that I am only really at my best for a certain number of hours each day, after then, I feel too tired to be the kind of mum I want to be, so I am thinking maybe, it would be a good idea if I read stories to you in the day rather than the evening and helped you put your pyjamas on before supper?”
“But, I might get my pyjamas dirty!” our son replied in a concerned tone.
“That’s okay, you could wear your dressing gown over them and we can wash that easily”
“Okay” he replied “Let’s try it!”
Looking back now, I can see how I have put everyone’s Needs before my own believing I was a “Bad” and “Failing” parent or partner for having Needs of my own. I have had outbursts of anger and have been carrying a heavy mood of “Wrongness” for many years as I tried to deny my Needs, my “Dream-body” was having “Tantrums” because I was not listening or being honest about what I needed, at least not without a ton of guilt.
A dear friend once said to me,”We have to decided what is actually a “Need” and what is just a “Want”. Maybe, behind every “Want” or “Desire” is actually a Need not being met, but, hey, we may not be able to understand every Need in every moment and even if we do understand, we may not be able to meet that Need in every moment. Maybe, it is not even about having to meet the Need or Want but rather just “Validating” it and empathising…..Understanding and respecting how much my son wants that £100 Lego Space Station doesn’t mean I’m going to buy it because, whatever his Need, frankly we all Need to eat this week!. Sometimes, it is not going to be ideal or perfect and it can be hard for young children (and adults) to “compromise” especially when their Need is really strong but, with true honesty and love I believe it might be possible to have a deeper connection with the people around us.
I need the courage to be okay with the possibility that I may not be able to meet every Need of my children. I have to have the courage to not be “perfect” and have enough self-compassion to admit “I’m sorry I’m not able to do that today”.